Clark: UN race like the Wild West

Clark: UN race like the Wild West

Helen Clark has likened the race for United Nations Secretary General to the most famous shootout in the Wild West - the O.K. Corral.

There's just a couple of weeks left until arguably the most intense and public interview process in the world wraps up.

Next Monday will be the final straw poll, and the following week the determining hands of the permanent five (P5) members of the Security Council - the US, UK, China, Russia and France - will be shown.

Those five will essentially shoot down candidates left, right and centre - Helen Clark wants to be the one left standing when the smoke clears.

"So the strategy has been to stay in this race and when there's the shootout at the O.K. Corral to be standing then as an option," Ms Clark said.

The polling process so far has been "volatile" according to Ms Clark, who's now been campaigning for the job for almost six months.

"We've seen people who've polled second in the first poll then fall way down the rankings, we've seen someone who got two votes soar up to get 10," she said.

"There have been many different factors at play here - geo-political factors, and I suspect also an issue as to whether people want someone stronger or weaker in the role."

John Key is in New York and held a joint news conference with Ms Clark, where she thanked him for his backing and the support he'd drummed up from everyone from Foreign Affairs officials to the general public.

"I haven't seen any other candidate have this level of support from the home team. I really deeply appreciate that."

The Prime Minister says the role is important and significant, and says he'll be holding a number of bi-lateral meetings while in New York this week and will be advocating for her to a number of world leaders - including those in the P5.

"We have consistently said very strongly that we believe Helen is the best person for the job, that the United Nations actually needs to step up and pick a candidate that can actually do the right thing by the organisation and by the countries that they represent."

Mr Key says that if New Zealand was in eastern Europe, there'd be no question Ms Clark would be the next Secretary-General.

"What we're seeing on display here is not a situation where other countries don't like Helen or respect her capability; this is purely about wanting to preserve the rotation and about having their own vested interests."

It's widely thought the rotation system for the job, currently held by Ban Ki-moon, means a candidate from eastern Europe should be next.

Mr Key says that doesn't mean Ms Clark doesn't have a chance, but rather the road will be harder.

The pair had been discussing their tactics for the week, but will not be campaigning together.

Mr Key says that they're now working together shows the strength of New Zealand's democracy - that they can disagree on policy, but still back each other.

"That's the way we operate, we want New Zealanders to do well, whether it's sports, business, the NGO sector or in politics."

Ms Clark believes Kiwis are "pretty realistic" about the process which is "part of a very big geopolitical game".

"We don't geo-politically have anything to throw into this, but our case is one of substance and I think for the global public and a great many member states they'd like to see the leadership profile I have in this job.

"So we have a strong case to make. It remains to be seen whether that case prevails."